(Action) Daew is a cop who has nailed the evil gunrunner General Yang, but his partner is killed in this case and Daew becomes depressed. To cheer him up, his sister invites him to join her and some friends at a small village to give food and toys to the villagers. What starts out as a trip to help people turns into a nightmare when Yang's men arrive at the village and take over, demanding the release of Yang or a nuclear missile will hit Bangkok. It's up to Daew and friends to stop them before it's too late.
Packed with bone-crunching action and death-defying stunts, Born to Fight is another awesome extravaganza from the Thai action masters who created the worldwide hits Ong-Bak and The Protector. While those two previous films were dazzling showcases for Thai action superstar Tony Jaa, Born to Fight shines the spotlight on Dan Chupong, earning top billing after studying Thai martial arts with Jaa and director Panna Rittikrai, the veteran Thai stunt-master who mentored both Jaa and Chupong to stardom. Under Rittikrai's no-holds-barred direction, Chupong plays Deaw, an elite undercover cop who takes a break after the costly arrest of a drug-cartel kingpin to attend a charity event with his sister Nui (Tae Kwon Do champion Kessarin Ektawatkul) in a remote, impoverished village. When the entire village is held hostage by a siege of terrorists with a nuclear missile aimed at Bangkok, Deaw unites the village in a bold act of defiance, and Born to Fight's simple plot kicks into overdrive with some of the most astonishing and genuinely life-threatening stunts ever filmed. And while Born to Fight was not a hit when released in Thailand in 2004 (and only later gained an international audience), the amazing cast offers an abundance of charisma and skill to compensate for the overly familiar plot.
The patriotic retaliation against terrorists includes combatants of all ages and abilities, from the fiercely compact Sasisa Jindamanee (junior champion of Thai kick boxing) to an elderly man and even a one-legged villager who does his part for king and country. And consider this lineup of diversely skilled performers: Nantaway Wongwanichislip (Asian champion rugby player); Piyapong Piew-On (Thai football superstar); Rattaporn Khemthong (Thai gymnastic team star); Suebsak Pansueb (from the Thai Sepak Takraw team); and Amornthep Waewsang and Somrak Khamsing (Olympic gold medalists in gymnastics and boxing, respectively). As a squadron of fearless daredevils, this remarkable cast employs every imaginable technique to conquer their captors. With an opening action sequence that must be seen to be believed, Born to Fight may be far-fetched at times, but the stunts are so insanely impressive that they make this a must-see film for action fans around the world. Only one question remains: Can anyone top this film without getting killed in the process? --Jeff Shannon
On the DVDs
Dragon Dynasty has done a terrific job with its two-disc Ultimate Edition of Born to Fight. Disc 1 features the film itself, beautifully presented in Thai with an optional English-dubbed soundtrack and optional English and Spanish subtitles. Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan provides the feature-length commentary, offering humorous observations and insight about Thai action cinema and its gradual evolution toward a national identity, distinct from the influence of Hong Kong action thrillers. Disc 2 includes a 65-minute "making of" documentary, featuring extensive interviews with the producer, director, and principal cast of Born to Fight, and a shorter, 5-minute featurette promoting the film's diverse cast of athletically skilled performers. The film's original Thai theatrical trailer and U.S. promotional trailer are also included. --Jeff Shannon